The process of nuclear fusion can be explained using the curve of binding energy per nucleon against nucleon number.

Key Concepts

When two small nuclei fuse to make a bigger one, the binding energy per nucleon is increased. This means that energy is released and the nucleus is more stable than the original parts.


Calculating energy released - graph

The energy released during fusion can be calculated by reading values of binding energy per nucleon from the graph, then multiplying each by the respective number of nucleons.

Calculating energy released - mass defect

Nuclear fusion reduces the total mass of the nuclei, due to the increase in binding energy.

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